Saudi Arabia Orders Transfer of Medical Patients Out of Canada

Geneva Stokes
August 8, 2018

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday ruled out any mediation in an escalating diplomatic row with Canada, adding that the kingdom was considering further punitive measures against Ottawa.

The spat began last week when Canada's foreign ministry expressed its concern over the arrest of Saudi civil society and women's rights activists.

Canada's share of Saudi Arabia's FX reserves would likely not be enough by itself to hurt the loonie, said Mark McCormick, North American Head of FX Strategy at TD Securities.

Media reports also suggest Saudi Arabia may cancel thousands of scholarships for students attending school in Canada.

On Monday, Canada's foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, said her government - which has come under fire previously for signing off on the sale of more than 900 armoured vehicles to Riyadh - would continue to call for the release of the detained activists.

Other sanctions include Saudi patients in Canada having their treatments stopped and being relocated to a medical facility outside the country. Annual Saudi-Canadian trade hovers around $4bn.

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The Saudi Foreign Ministry took exception to the wording of the tweet, calling it an attempt by Canada to interfere with the country's internal affairs.

The Financial Times recently reported that the Saudi central bank and state pension funds had instructed their overseas asset managers to dispose of their Canadian equities, bonds and cash holdings "no matter the cost".

The Canadian currency dropped as much as 0.5 per cent to 76.21 U.S. cents after the Financial Times reported that the Saudi Arabia central bank and state pension funds have instructed their overseas asset managers to dispose of Canadian assets starting Tuesday.

The kingdom has also expelled Canada's ambassador Dennis Horak, giving him 24 hours to leave the country over the intensifying diplomatic row.

Although Saudi Arabia is one of the world's top executioners, crucifixions where the body is put on display publicly are rare. Saudi Arabia's airline suspended flights to and from Canada, potentially complicating travel plans for Canada's Muslim population as the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca approaches later in August.

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